Buying an Event Horse
Hope you’re all well and enjoying your horses. Quiet few weeks for Sadie and I as she has pulled her hamstring, fingers and hooves crossed we are out and about again soon.
When Abi and the Hardy team asked me to write this blog it led me down memory lane, to where eventing all began for me. Buying an event horse has always involved limited funds so, like many of you, I spent many a weekend trolling the country for my next superstar. I have started each of my horses from the beginning and feel this has helped me become a more accomplished rider (or maybe just taught me the ability to sit still and stick)! Buying young and relatively inexperienced horses throughout my whole life I have learnt many things, made some mistakes and on the whole had lots of fun in the process. Young horses can be very trying at times but it’s deeply satisfying when you see their progression.
So, what do I look for when buying an event horse? Firstly, I have a checklist, which often has endless attributes I would like my horse to be, i.e not grey, and this then has to be prioritised into a realistic list of essentials. A popular way to search for your next event horse now is to use the powers of the internet. This gives you a much wider scope to search for what you need, especially if you are willing to travel further afield to ‘try before you buy’.
Here are my 4 top tips to look out for when searching for either your next superstar or simply your new best friend.
This is a crucial factor to consider when buying your next event horse. Although we must be realistic and no horse is perfect, your horse must attribute soundness. I believe they must have an athletic body and sound legs, in order to cope with the physical demands we place on them during every event. The horse’s body and characteristics must be suitable for the intended job and not hamper their performance in any way. I’m sure we want to eliminate the risk of injury as much as we can.
For me an event horse must have the ability to jump the level you are hoping to ultimately compete at. Whilst this can be difficult to confirm when they are young and inexperienced, they must have a naturally scopey jump and a willingness to get to the other side of the fence. Jumping forms two of the three disciplines when eventing so I believe it is essential the horse can cope with the technical aspects required during the show jumping and cross country phases. If the horse has good conformation and a natural swing in walk then dressage can be worked on but their natural ability over a fence is something I would always consider a priority.
As an amateur event rider this I believe is the most important aspect to consider before I purchase a horse. Whether you are just starting out or hoping to climb up the levels eventing, a good event horse must have a trainable temperament. Temperament is something I have been guilty of overlooking in the past. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say; I saw a beautiful, well bread horse with endless scope in a dealing yard and believed it could be the next superstar. I now know all too well, you can have the most talented horse in the world, but if it has not got a trainable attitude then the talent is almost irrelevant. Your event horse needs to be strong, brave and fearless in order to succeed. These attributes I believe also need to be present in the rider too!
The breed of your event horse really depends on the level you wish to compete at and what you as a rider enjoys riding. I had a fantastic event horse that got to Novice level and her breeding was ‘unknown’ and hear others who have a horse bred by a top eventing stallion and it is afraid of its own shadow. Just look at Badminton trot up this year, event horses come in all shapes and sizes! I personally like horses with Thoroughbred in them, believing this makes them brave and able to gallop. Combine this with something like a warmblood for elegance or an Irish Draught for some sense and your flying. My best advice would be to say, be open minded about the breed and look at lots of different horses before making your decision.
Buying an event horse can be a mine field and I would always recommend taking an experienced coach, who knows you and your riding ability, with you when looking. Make sure you have plenty of time to try each horse and never feel rushed. I am a firm believer that horses pick their owners so don’t force a horse to like you or you to like it because everyone else says it suits you. If it’s meant to be then it will happen.
Lastly, I would like to wish you all the best with your search and I hope my top tips will help you to pick your next superstar. I would love to hear your stories about how you purchased your horse and any more top tips you would like to add to my list.
Take care everyone and enjoy your horses.
Love Laura x